A Brilliant Bearing Block for a Bow Drill Fire Set

by Todd Walker

Ever hear a brilliant idea and wonder why you didn’t think of it earlier?

A Brilliant Bearing Block for a Bow Drill Fire Set

On The Pathfinder School Learning Center, Dave Canterbury posted a pic of a bearing block he made using an old soda can as an insert to reduce friction on his bow drill set up. While this idea wasn’t new to me, he suggested I use a piece of fat wood as a bearing block for my set. How brilliant is that!?

I made a bearing block out of a fat lighter’d knot yesterday. It’s a simple DiY project and adds another layer of fire redundancy in my kit.

You can’t walk far in the woods in Georgia without stumbling over fat wood. From previous resource gathering jaunts in the woods behind my school, I knew exactly where to harvest a few lighter’d knots for this project.

Down-and-Dirty Steps

Material and Tools

  • Fat wood knot (lighter’d knot)
  • Soft metal blank
  • Vise
  • Ball pen hammer and 9/16″ socket
  • Drill and bit
  • Wire brush
  • Epoxy

Step 1: Harvest a Lighter’d Knot

Harvest a fat wood knot. You can use a piece of fat wood from the core of a pine tree. It will take a bit longer to shape and finish into a smooth hand hold. You’ll speed up the process if you can find a nature-made hand hold – a fat wood knot.

A Brilliant Bearing Block for a Bow Drill Fire Set

A great score on lighter’d knots! My previous bearing block in the center is made of cedar. 

Step 2: Mold Your Divot Blank

Use a soft metal. I used a blank from a metal electrical box. I’ve seen socket blanks made from U.S. coinage.

A Brilliant Bearing Block for a Bow Drill Fire Set

Ball pen hammer, 9/16 ” socket, and a vise

Place your blank over an appropriately sized socket from a ratchet set. I used a 9/16″ short socket. Center the rounded end of a ball pen hammer on the blank which is resting on the socket.

Place the whole set up in a vise (hammer, blank, and socket) and tighten to create a dimple in the metal blank. File or sand any rough edges off the edge of your divot to prevent snags.

Step 3: Prep the Lighter’d Knot

If you have a grinder and wire brush attachment, use it to knock off any crust of the knot. Place the knot in a vise for this part. Normal safety precautions: Wear eye protection and gloves. This step also brings out the natural color of the fat wood – if that matters to you.

Next, place the knot in your hand and find where it’s most comfortable. Mark the spot under the knot where you’ll place your divot for the blank.

A Brilliant Bearing Block for a Bow Drill Fire Set

Mark the spot for your divot hole

Load the knot back in the vise and drill a hole about a 1/4″ deep to accept your divot blank. Use a paddle bit that is the same width as your divot blank. For me, a 7/8″ bit matched perfectly. The bit size and hole depth depends on the size of the blank you use.

A Brilliant Bearing Block for a Bow Drill Fire Set

7/8″ paddle bit was just wide enough

Dry fit the divot blank in the hole. Tweak as needed. It shouldn’t be a very tight fit since you’ll be securing the blank to the wood in the next step.

A Brilliant Bearing Block for a Bow Drill Fire Set

Dry fitting

Step 4: Epoxy the Divot Blank

Follow the directions on your epoxy and mix an amount that will fill the divot hole. Place the divot blank on top of the epoxy and set firmly. Wipe up any excess that squeezes out around the divot blank.

A Brilliant Bearing Block for a Bow Drill Fire Set

The finished product

After the epoxy sets up, sand off any residue around the hole if needed.

A Brilliant Bearing Block for a Bow Drill Fire Set

Ready for friction fire!

Of course you wouldn’t have access to these tools in a wilderness setting. I’ll be posting on how to make a bow drill set from all natural harvested wood (poplar tree) in the next few weeks. Hope you stick around!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

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Categories: Bushcraft, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss Program

by Todd Walker

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss ProgramDoing the Stuff with your gear is the most overlooked skill in the world of prepping and survivalism. In general, we tend to think un-tested gear will get us through any crisis. Just whoop out that new shiny object from your kit… you know, you’ve seen the YouTube videos.

Imagine this…

You and your family are forced, for whatever reason – really doesn’t matter why, to grab your bug out bags and get out of dodge… on foot. You’ve got 5 minutes to get out. Immediately you realize the weight of your bag alone will make your journey impossible.

Time to go on a weight-loss program – for your gear!

As some of our regular readers know, I’ve built a semi-permanent shelter in the woods. It’s my personal space where I go to get centered, re-humanized, and enjoy nature. From a survival point of view, my personal space gives me a convenient location to build skills.

More importantly, it’s a weight-loss center for gear. It does a pretty good job of keeping extra pounds off the body too.

On to the gear weight-loss program.

My first overnight outing in my shelter helped me lose extra gear weight. Granted, it was only a one-night-stand. But that one night with a new ALICE pack (All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) was needed to compare with my old 3-day assault bag.

You see, with larger packs, I tend to over pack. The smaller ALICE forced me to downsize and prioritize my gear. Anytime I head out for some dirt time I pack, at a minimum, the first five of Dave Canterbury’s 10 C’s of Survival. This trip was no different with one exception…. I overpacked ALICE to test her fit, finish, carrying capacity, and comfort.

Below you’ll see what I packed, what I actually needed, and what I’ll leave behind next time. I packed way too much stuff for an overnight trip. But remember, I needed to get ALICE in the woods for the first time.

Stuff I Packed

Dave’s 5 C’s

1.) Cutting tools. These items are the hardest to trim for me. My only excuse is that I love sharp stuff!

  • BK2 – A pure tank of a knife with a 1/4″ full tang 1095 steel blade.
  • Mora Companion – I find it more useful around camp for finer knife work. It rides around my neck via a lanyard.
  • Opinel #8 folder
  • Leatherman multi-tool
  • Swiss Army Knife – Stays in my right pant pocket whenever I leave the house.
  • Bacho Laplander –  This folding saw was used for a lot of cuts on my shelter.
  • Ax – Wetterlings 16″ Hunter’s Ax. Small enough to fit into my rolled up bedroll, yet large enough to handle most tasks around base camp.
  • Almost Free Ax – I know, overkill for one night. Told you sharp stuff was my kryptonite.

2.) Combustion. Fire is life out there.

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss Program

Fire kit fits inside the tin at the top

  • Lighter
  • Ferro rod
  • Flint and steel
  • Char tin and charred material
  • Fat lighter’d (fat wood)
  • Water proof jute twine and other dry tinder material
  • Mini Inferno (water proof fire starter)

3.) Cover. My trapper’s shelter was my cover for the night. However, redundancy give you options…

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss Program

Morning coffee!!

  • USGI poncho
  • Contractor trash bag x2

4.) Container. For cooking, water, etc.

5.) Cordage. Hard to make in the wilderness – easy to just pack some in your kit.

  • 50 ft. of paracord
  • 25 ft. of #36 tarred bank line
  • 50 ft. of climbing rope
  • Two short bungee cords for my bedroll

The rest of Dave’s 10 C’s of Survival

6.) Candle (lighting)

  • Headlamp for hands free illumination
  • Pak-lite LED Flashlight – Great for lighting your shelter is the weight of a 9v battery
  • StreamLight ProTac 2L – 3 modes: bright, dim, and strobe and will light up the woods – doubles a my EDC pocket light
  • LightSpecs – almost forgot these LED reading glasses that ride on my head

7.) Cotton. 100% cotton rag or bandana can be used for bandaging wounds, char cloth, and many other survival uses.

  •  Large bandana
  • Small squares of bath towel (future char cloth)

8.) Compass for navigation

9.) Cargo tape. This may be the most versatile item in your kit.

  • Gorilla tape
  • Electrical tape from my Cigar Fishing Kit – orange in color for marking trail or signaling rescuers to your path

10.) Canvas needle. From repairing gear in the field to removing splinters.

  • Sail needle
  • Dental floss

That’s the 10 C’s. Now for the other stuff.

Bedroll

Wool blanket with ax tucked into the roll

Wool blanket with ax tucked into the roll

  • 100% queen-size wool army blanket
  • USGI poncho liner
  • Section of the billboard for a ground cloth (already at the shelter)

Food

  • Poached my bug out bag food bag – overkill again
  • Coffee and tea

Water

  • MSR Miniworks Micro filter

Sidearm

  • Springfield XD 9mm
  • 2 magazines
  • No long gun this trip

Clothing

  • Extra long sleeve shirt and the clothes on my back
  • Homemade wool hunting shirt
  • Boonie hat

Book

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss Program

Woodcraft and Camping

  • Woodcraft and Camping by “Nessmuk”
  • Journal and pencil

Stuff I Needed

The first 5 C’s

1.) Cutting tools

By far the most used knife was my Mora Companion neck knife. There wasn’t a lot of heavy-duty campcrafting needed so my BK2 stayed in its sheath. I did cut a sapling with the BK2 to mount a frog gig on the end. Also used the packaging tool on my SAK to tighten bank line lashing on the cooking tripod I made.

The Wetterlings ax saw minor action harvesting saplings for the cooking tripod. The Almost Free Ax was never unmasked.

The pliers on my multi-tool was used to remove a container of boiling water from the toggle on the tripod.

The Bacho folding saw was use to harvest dead-fall poplar wood for a bow drill set. To shape my spindle, the Mora was all I needed.

Cutting Tools I’d Leave Behind

  1. Opinel folding knife
  2. Almost Free Ax

2.) Combustion

Used a Bic lighter and feathered fat lighter’d stick to light the camp fire. I was lazy and didn’t feel like practicing primitive fire skills. That’s why I carry a lighter.

Combustion Items I’d Leave Behind

NONE! Fire is life.

3.) Cover (Shelter)

My shelter was already built. I still carried my poncho which came in handy as an extra layer of insulation over my wool blanket.

Cover Items I’d Leave Behind

NONE!

4.) Container

The cook set served me well alone. With more than one person, a larger cooking pot/pan would be needed.

Container Items I’d Leave Behind

NONE! Add a larger bush pot.

5.) Cordage

The 25 ft of tarred bank line was used to lash the cooking tripod. Since my shelter was already built, no other cordage was needed.

Cordage Items I’d Leave Behind

NONE! Pack 50 ft of tarred bank line next trip.

6.) Candle (lighting)

My LightSpecs, headlamp, and Pak-lite saw the most action on this trip. A couple of times I almost reached for my StreamLight as the coyotes got closer in the middle of the night.

Skills: A Gear Weight-Loss Program

Red light saves night vision

Candle Items I’d Leave Behind

Pak-lite LED flashlight. Although, for the small amount of added weight, I’d probably keep it in my kit.

#7-10 – Cotton, compass, cargo tape, and canvas needle (repair kit) would stay the same.

Other Stuff

It’s really not surprising, at least to me, that I didn’t drop much weight on the 10 C’s. Those items are essential to survivability. With these tools and the knowledge and skill to use them, you increased your odds of comfortably surviving a wilderness or bug out journey.

Lessons Learned

A.) The importance of thermoregulation can’t be overstated – even in 45º temperatures. By 2 AM, I woke up to cold feet. I had let the fire die down and had not collected enough fuel to see me through the entire night. I draped my poncho over the wool blanket to add an extra layer of insulation. This did the trick.

Another point worth discussing is the lack of insulation between me and the ground. Though the ground wasn’t frozen like our neighbors to the north, the ground cloth and poncho liner was too minimalist. My remedy will be to add a foot of dried leaves and straw with the billboard on top of that layer as a moisture barrier.

B.) On firewood: Collect two or three times the amount you think you’ll need for the night. The shelter was designed to capture radiant heat via the reflecting wall and the overhang on the front of the shelter. The cool weather wouldn’t have been a problem if I had harvested enough fuel.

C.) For practice runs of one or two nights out, lose as much gear weight as you comfortably can. Make a note (an actual list) of what you needed and what turned out to be extra weight. Pack accordingly on your next outing.

For instance, I primarily used one knife. That knife should be a full tang, 5 inch high carbon steel blade or longer, 90º angled spine, and non-coated. For me it’s my BK2. Although I use my Mora as a backup.

D.) My water filter wasn’t working properly. I boiled water for cooking and drinking via the bottle cook set.

To loose gear weight, you have to test your stuff. Your bug out bag or bushcraft kit should be in constant state of evolution not a shiny object storage compartment. There’s no such thing as a perfect kit. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to create one.

As skills increase, gear will decrease.

What skill would help you lose gear weight?

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, equipment, Gear, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

Those who are paying attention are actively retooling to escape the noose of modern consumerism and become self-reliant producers.

23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

You can find these independent thinkers on different fronts of the preparedness movement:

  • Back-to-basics
  • Homesteading
  • Preppers
  • Off-grid living
  • Survivalists
  • Simple living
  • Bushcrafting
  • Self-reliance
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Resilience
  • Sustainability
  • DiY’ers
  • Farmsteading

Whether you’re in this movement as a hobby or a passionate pursuit, the common thread tying us together is self-reliance and breaking our dependence on our fragile system. One of the reasons we started the Doing the Stuff Network was to encourage people to learn and practice new skills. The journey we’re on will require us to retool for an uncertain future.

Hurt me with the truth but never comfort me with a lie. Here’s the truth – our fragile system of consumerism is not sustainable. Of course, you can take comfort in the lie that we can print and spend our way out of the hole we’re in – or – you can embrace the painful truth and get busy Doing the Stuff to build self-reliance.

Retool or Be a Tool

A person is a tool (blunt object) when he/she is being used without even realizing it.

You ever been used as a tool? Yes? Me too. It’s a nasty, degrading feeling when you realize a ‘friend’, coworker, or family member has you wrapped tightly in their grip. Those situations are often easily recognized.

But here’s the thing…

The vast majority of people rarely wake up to the fact that they’re a tool in the system’s matrix. That’s the ‘beauty’ of our system. We get used to being used for the good of the collective. We accept dependence and conform.

For those of you wishing to escape the system’s unsustainable human farm paradigm, if only in small ways, it’s time to retool!

Retool is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

1. to make changes to (something) in order to improve it

2. to reequip with tools

As #1 states, you have to make changes to something to see improvement. That “something” is you. There’s no better way to improve you than to learn new skills and enhance existing ones. New skills require new tools.

Sherpa Tip: Strive for progress, not perfection in your retooling. Buy/acquire the best tools you can afford. Cheap shiny objects from China are tempting but you’ll end up replacing them several times costing you more in the long run. Cheap tools aren’t good and good tools aren’t cheap. You can find quality, inexpensive tools at yard/estate sales and used online sites.

Get ‘em, you’ll need them someday when the power fails to help rebuild. Until then, make smart use of modern power tools while building your non-powered toolbox. Like any new undertaking, there’s always a learning curve, especially with forgotten pioneer tools.

Here’s my top 23+ human-powered tools that your grandparents or great grandparents used to forge a self-reliant lifestyle. Don’t be shy about jumping in and adding to the list in the comments.

Tools for Self-Reliance

  1. Scythe – This tool was used to cut grass at a camp I ran in Siberia in 1993. An American friend with good intentions wanted to help speed up the landscaping chores and bought a combustion engine lawn mower. It threw a rod in 15 minutes. The scythe never lost power.
  2. Hoe and shovel- There will be long rows to hoe and holes to dig.
  3. Posthole diggers – Job specific tool that is indispensable for setting fence posts and digging round, vertical holes.

    23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

    Scary looking fencing pliers

  4. Fencing pliers – A nasty looking tool no homestead should be without.
  5. Come-Along and block and tackle – Use mechanical advantage to lift carcasses for cleaning or persuade leaning trees to fall away from your cabin. 23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance
  6. Wheeled carts – Based on a simple machine: lever. Give me a long enough lever and I can move the world.
  7. 4 pronged garden fork – Turns compost and sod.
  8. Containers – The most overlooked of all tools is the humble container. Collect metal, cast iron, plastic, glass, large barrels, stainless steel (milk pails), rubber, and clay containers. Animals have to be fed, water hauled, crops canned, food cooked, water stored, etc., etc.
  9. Carpentry - Hand saws (rip and cross cut), screw drivers, chisels, draw knives, shaving horse, brace and bits, spoke shave, froe, mallet, miter box, framing square, levels (4′, 2′, torpedo), hammer, pencils, and plenty of hardware.
  10. Handyman tools – Channel Lock pliers, socket set, adjustable wrenches, hand saws (cross and rip), hacks saw and blades, clamps, claw hammers (sledge, ball peen, claw), pry bars, pipe wrenches, measuring devices, heavy-duty vise, and files (all shapes and sizes).
  11. Cutting tools – Knives (fixed blade, folding, and everything in between paring to butcher), axes, hatchets, bush hook,two man saw,adz, broad ax, sharpening stones, and a butcher’s steel. I prefer high carbon steel over stainless steel for achieving razor-sharp edges. Plus, high carbon steel knives all you to create sparks with flint, chert, or other hard rock. Redundancy!

    DiY Sawbuck: Work Smarter in the Woodpile

    Buck sawing on the Sawbuck

  12. Blacksmithing – Forge, billow, anvil, hammers, tongs, post vice, files, and quench bucket. After acquiring these, you can make your own tools and needed items. Stock up on salvaged steel.
  13. Cordage – Natural and synthetic rope, twine, tarred bank line, and paracord of all sizes. Making your own takes time, resources, and skill. Stock up now. Don’t forget sewing thread as cordage.
  14. Food prep – Wood cook stove, cast iron cookware, utensils, pressure canner (relatively new tool), crocks, and churn.
  15. Personal care – Straight razor, strop, and sharpening stones.
  16. Weaponry –  Modern to primitive. Modern: At a minimum, a common caliber (for your area) shotgun (12 or 20 gauge), side arm (.45, .357, .38, 9mm, .22), high-powered center fire (30-06, .308,  30-30, .223) and rim fire (.22 cal) rifle. When you run out of cartridges… Traditional muzzleloaders: Black powder rifle, shotgun, and pistols. Primitive: bow and arrows, atlatl, slings.
  17. Music – Forgotten but important culturally and entertainment wise.
  18. Education – Books – lots of hard bound books from all genres. Writing utensils and reams of paper. Reading glasses.
  19. Trapping – Foothold,  bodygrip (Conibear), snares, and live traps. Check local laws and regulations.
  20. Beekeeping – Because we all love honey, right!? Bee hives, hive tool, smoker, hat and veil, gloves, and protective clothing.
  21. Leather work – Down and Dirty Basics: Cutting tool, punch, awl (ice pick works), needle, glue and clamps.
  22. Medical – Surgical kit that covers minor and major needs. Of course, if you don’t have the skill to use these tools, someone in your tribe may. Collect ‘em!

    23+ Items You Need to Retool for Self-Reliance

    Surgical tools a good friend gave us but I have no experience using – yet

  23. Animal husbandry – This list of tools can get long really quickly. Take care of your animals and your animals will take care of you. So here goes… Species specific halters, leads, and restraints; wound care, hoof care, syringes, oral dose syringe, etc., etc.

Some of these tools and the skills to use them were common in earlier generations. After a reset, you’ll be proud you retooled with a collection of human-powered pioneer tools. Think muscle over motor to rebuild a strong, self-reliant future for your family.

Even if you never learn how to use all these tools, they’d make great barter items for stuff you do need at your local SHTF swap meet.

What would you add to the retool list?

Retool and Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Gear, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

A Curiously Strong One-Stop-Shop for Natural Fire Tinder

by Todd Walker

Nature is an amazing teacher and provider!

A Curiously Strong One-Stop-Shop for Natural Fire Tinder

Are you familiar with the American Beech tree? They’re easy to identify. Just look for a smooth-barked tree that has initials carved in the trunk. I know I carved mine in their thin, whitish bark as a kid. Beech trees usually grow in groves near water and rich, well-drained soil.

I’ve always noticed black clumps attached to the branches of these trees in winter and early spring when green foliage is absent. Last weekend curiosity got the best of me. I carefully harvested a clump, not sure of what it was, or if these hard black masses would be of use somehow.

Guess what? Turns out that sooty mold makes an excellent fire tinder. You may have already known this, but to me, I was totally tickled by my new discovery!

Before demonstrating its usefulness for outers, bushcrafters, and self-reliant types, here’s how sooty mold is created.

Beginning in the late summer months, the Beech Blight Aphid (BBA) begins gathering in colonies on the branches of the American Beech tree. These little aphids are also known as wooly aphids and “boogie-woogie” aphids due to their defensive dance they perform when disturbed. The entire colony of thousands of white bugs begin to gyrate in unison when they feel threatened. I caught them dancing on a short video last summer while stump shooting. Quite amusing to watch!

So how does the Boogie-Woogie Aphid help create natural fire tinder?

The BBA is drawn to the American Beech tree for its sap. They amass in such large numbers that the limbs look to be covered with snow. While hanging out, they ingest the sap and excrete honeydew which covers Beech branches, twigs, and the ground underneath.

This waste (poop) provides a suitable food source for the next cycle of life – fungi. Sooty molds feed on this sweet, sugary honeydew and eventually turns into a black tar-like mass. The mold doesn’t penetrate the bark and harm the tree. It simply eats the aphid’s sweet poop. Yummy!

During my dirt time last weekend, I had a hunch. Would these black masses burn? This is how we discover new stuff – by being curious.

I harvested a clump from a low tree branch near my shelter.

How the Boogie-Woogie Aphid and Sooty Mold Make Natural Fire Tinder

How the Boogie-Woogie Aphid and Sooty Mold Make Natural Fire Tinder

To my surprise and excitement, the brittle sooty mold took a spark from my ferro rod and began to smolder.

How the Boogie-Woogie Aphid and Sooty Mold Make Natural Fire Tinder

Some gentle blowing and you can create sooty mold on fire!

How the Boogie-Woogie Aphid and Sooty Mold Make Natural Fire Tinder

How the Boogie-Woogie Aphid and Sooty Mold Make Natural Fire Tinder

Unlike punk wood, cattail heads, or cotton fabric, there’s no need to char the sooty mold for it to catch and hold a spark. The black mass already appears charred and has plenty of nooks and crannies for increased surface area to hold sparks off a ferro rod. I have not tested it with flint and steel yet.

This resource-rich tree is loaded with dried leaves well after other deciduous trees are bare. Arrange the dried leaves into a bird’s nest tinder bundle, add smoldering sooty mold, blow, and you have a curiously strong one-stop-shop for fire from the American Beech tree in the eastern woodlands!

Now I’m curious if any of you fellow Doers of Stuff have ever tried sooty mold for fire tinder – or am I just late to the party? Share your best natural fire tinder with us in the comments for some open learning opportunities!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

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Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

by Todd Walker

Which would you rather be cold or wet?

How about neither!

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

Shelter plays an important role in thermoregulation. As I peck at my keyboard, the outside temp is 50º with a  light rain. Enough exposure to these “mild” conditions without some type of shelter and a search and rescue mission turns into a recovery team.

A healthy individual can endure Mother Nature’s extreme elements for only a few hours. Even properly clothed, you won’t last long if you’re cold AND wet. In plain English, humans need shelter to survive.

Events can happen that force even non-outdoorsy types out of the warm, dry confines of home. Those of us who intentionally wander in the woods understand the importance of carrying some form of shelter.

The two categories for shelter discussed here are manufactured stuff (trash, tarps, etc.); and available natural resources (outside the tent thinking). Whether manmade or natural, your shelter should provide these basics:

  • Protection from the extreme elements – wind, rain, sun, cold
  • The ability to keep you warm and dry with only the clothes you’re wearing if necessary
  • A safe/secure location to rest, relax, and recuperate
  • A work space for tasks that will increase your survivability
  • Ease of erecting and transporting

Manufactured Material

The first rule of survival with or without shelter is… Do. Not. Panic. At least that’s what trained experts tell us. But that is exactly what most non-survivors do. The moment you realize you’re lost in the woods or on the backside of a disaster event is the most crucial time for survival. If you are not in imminent physical danger…

S.T.O.P. (Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan)

  1. Sit – And breathe. Take 20 minutes or as long as your situation affords to gather yourself. If lost in the wilderness, you can afford a 20 minute break to exit panic mode.
  2. Think – Your second thoughts are the ones that help you survive. Usually, first thoughts are to react instead of respond logically.
  3. Observe – What resources (skills and stuff) are available to effect your survival?
  4. Plan – Now that you’re cool, calm, and collected (sort of), make a logical plan to survive.

Shelter, water, fire, and food – in this order – should be your priority in most cases. Remember the Rule of Threes – 3 hours without shelter and you risk hypothermia and eventual death.

To ‘enjoy’ your unplanned vacation, shelter ranks above all other needs. Hopefully, you’re not caught without some form of shelter in your kit. Tarps, contractor trash bags, ponchos, emergency space blankets, tyvek house wrap, billboards, or oiled canvas are shelter options.

Tarp Shelters

If you plan ahead, shelter can be set up in 5 minutes or less. Attach one corner of a tarp to a tree with a bungee cord or rope and stake off the other three corners to the ground.

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

4 tent stakes, a bungee cord and a tarp and you have…

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

The 5 Minute Shelter

Down and Dirty Tip: Toggles are survival tools that make quick work of setting up tarp shelter. Tie a loop of cordage to your ground stake, insert the loop through the eyelet of the tarp, and place a toggle stick through the loop to hold the corner securely.

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

Down and dirty toggle tip

Lean-To Shelter

Run a ridge line with cordage and drape your tarp over the line. Secure the four corners and you have shelter.

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

Lean-to tarp shelter

If you don’t have a ground pad to lay upon, pile leaves, debris, and pine boughs up to add an insulation layer between you and the ground. Heat transfers from hot to cold. Body heat is conducted from our warm body when in contact with cold ground.

USGI Poncho Shelter

A military poncho is a multi-use item. It can be used to protect from the elements while navigating and converts to a tarp shelter as well.

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

Poncho and trekking poles

The eastern woodlands where I roam provide many trees for anchoring points for tarp shelters. I used DRG’s two hiking sticks, paracord, and stakes to convert my poncho into a shelter for demonstration purposes. This set up takes more time but is an option in areas with little to no trees.

If you get creative, you can build an Alpha Tent with your poncho.

But what if you find yourself in a situation without gear?

Natural Material

I know trash is not natural material, but don’t discount this survival resource. It’s a shame that people leave trash in the wilderness. Their wasteful ways can play into your favor when survival is on the line.

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

I found this trashed hunting blind near my semi-permanent shelter with a 5 gallon bucket inside. 

You never know what you’ll find. On a walkabout to gather pine pitch today, I found an old truck bed in the woods behind my school.

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

It’s seen better days but could serve as an emergency shelter.

Outside the tent thinking finds down and dirty shelter options.

Rocks, Ledges, and Caves

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

Rock outcropping

Be careful using ledges and rocks for shelter. Just like setting up shelter with manmade material, your location should be safe from falling objects and the risk of rising water and flash floods.

Keep in mind that ledges and caves are home to creepy crawlers and other animals. If a fire can be built, the smoke will help drive out scorpions, spiders and snakes. I don’t mind these critters until they snuggle into my bedroll.

I’m hesitant to list the typical survival shelters mentioned throughout the wilderness survival community. For instance, if you’ve got enough time, energy (calories), tools, and resources to build a debris hut, you’re probably not in a true survival scenario. You’re camping. They’re cool to build and will keep you warm and dry. However, they take a lot of time, resources, and calories – all of which are slim to none for most survivors.

Below is a shelter I built as my base camp for dirt time and practicing Doing the Stuff bushcraft skills. Could I use it as a survival shelter? Yes. But it’s taken about 20 man hours of hard work to build with sharp cutting tools, cordage, and many calories.

Think Outside the Tent for Shelter

Carrying 9 foot logs to build shelter is not the wisest use of calories for survival.

Semi- permanent shelters can’t be thrown together in a moments notice. My shelter was built for smoothing it, not roughing it. There will be no need to yield to senseless panic and die of exhaustion if we’ve learned the art of “smoothing it’ in the wilderness.

Survival shelters are temporary structure that provide insulation from wet, cold conditions to help you survival and be rescued. We’d like to hear your thoughts on survival shelters you’ve tested and used. Comments are always welcome!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

The Size of Your Ferro Rod Matters – Go Big!

by Todd Walker

ferro rod size matters

I once held the opinion that the size of your ferro rod didn’t really matter. As long as your little rod throws enough sparks to ignite a tinder bundle or char cloth, that’s all you need, right?

For the record, I’ve started many fires with thin $5 ferrocerium rods. No survival kit is complete without this essential fire starter. I bet Tom Hanks’ character (Chuck) wished he had one in his pocket in the movie Cast Away. But then again, he would never have experienced the thrill of fire by friction.

Ain’t Hollywood great!

Seriously, life and death situations are not the time to trust primal fire-making methods. These techniques are great skills to develop, but don’t play around with combustion when fire could save your life. Always carry fire redundancy.

The Size of Your Ferro Rod Matters - Go Big!

Pocket dump… this pocket-sized ferro rod and hacksaw blade striker rides on my key ring.

If all you can afford is a $5 ferro rod, buy it and learn to use it. Keep in mind that these are a consumable item and will eventually be depleted with use.

That’s why size matters!

Making fire is a hot topic with many arm-chair warriors on the internet. Some argue for small, light-weight rods to get the job done. I carry a small ferro rod everyday for those just-in-case times. A Bic lighter too. But for long-term survivability, I’m fond of big, substantial, molten steel for spontaneous combustion.

It’s been said that the key to lasting success is… lasting. The same applies to your survival gear. In the combustion department, you want a ferro rod that will last through years of use.

Allow me to introduce you to my new “little” friend!

The Size of Your Ferro Rod Matters - Go Big!

Measuring 1/2″ x 6″, this is a pyro beast!

Last weekend I spent some dirt time testing this fire wand. The amount of 3,000º sparks raining down from this fire tool is insane!

I ordered mine from the Pathfinder Store. No fancy bone or wood handles. Just a blank ferro rod.

My down and dirty handle is made of several feet of Gorilla Tape and a loop of paracord. Here’s my reasoning for this handle:

  • Extra Gorilla Tape is never a bad thing in a crisis
  • Epoxied handles tend to come loose with heavy use over time – not so with this tape
  • The loop allows me to clip the rod on the inside of my bushcraft bag or B.O.B.
  • My pinky finger fits inside to secure the grip when pulling the rod across the spine of your knife or metal striker

The One-Strike Fire

The importance of fire for wilderness survival can’t be overstated. If you only have once chance to make fire, this ferro rod increase your odds.

Use a knife with a 90º spine or other sharp object to remove the black coating from the rod. The coating is there to prevent oxidation. Note to self: Do not test this bad boy inside your house or over your feet. Trust me on this one. These globs of molten metal burn for a couple of seconds once they hit the ground.

DSCN0473

No amount of sparks will start a fire without properly processed tinder. Here I’m working natural tinder (cedar bark) into a fine fiber. Just to the left of my hands is a hat full of Beech leaves. Foliage from Beech trees is hanging around (late March) just asking to help make fire.

DSCN0474

Get the angle right with your scraper on the ferro rod and pull the rod back across the spin. My closed Opinel #8 worked fine. You want a high carbon steel blade for this task. The high carbon part isn’t as important with ferro rods but comes into play when using flint and steel to make sparks.

[High carbon steel is pyrophoric. Pyrophoric materials are substances that ignite instantly upon exposure to oxygen. We'll discuss the science behind flint and steel in an upcoming post.]

DSCN0475

The increased surface area of my new pyro wand produced fire in my tinder bundle with only one strike. What if you only get one strike to make fire? Bring a big bat to the plate!

DSCN0476

DSCN0477

In an emergency scenario where fire determines your survivability, rescue, life or death… SIZE MATTERS! Once you go big, you’ll never go back.

Update: For those interested, below is a progress photo of my semi-permanent bushcraft shelter. We all need a place to practice our Doing the Stuff skills… a place to trade theory for action!

DSCN0480

 

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

by Todd Walker

I love my Pathfinder 32 oz. Bottle Cooking Kit… except for one thing… the bag.

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

The bag is such a useful piece of kit and I hated its one glitch.

The nesting cup caught on the interior of the nylon bag when storing or removing the set. I filed the bat-wing handle attachment but the cup still snagged the bag liner. Oh well, I thought I’d have to live with it. 

Christian C rescued my bag by making a simple, yet brilliant, modification on his YouTube channel which saved me the gnawing frustration each time I used my cup in the field. You can check his video out at the bottom of this post. 

As many of you know, I’m a container freak! And this mod not only fixes the bag snag but also adds yet another metal container to my cook kit. I’m a redundancy freak too. 

All you need is a #3 Tall can from the grocery store. I stopped by our mom and pop grocery store on my way back from some quality dirt time yesterday and bought the cheapest can of tomato juice on the shelf. I walked in with my tape measure to make sure the can would fit my PF bag. 

The can’s dimensions are 4 1/4 inches in diameter by 7 inches tall and holds about 45 oz. I paid $1.55. 

Remove the lid with a can opener and discard the juice… or drink it if you’re into cheap, watered down fruit juice. Check the rim for any sharp edges. File them smooth if you have any. Mine had none. 

Wash and dry the can. Drill two holes on opposite sides of the top rim of the can. File the holes smooth. Make the holes large enough to accept the fish mouth spreader (bottle hanger) that comes with your PF Complete Bottle Cooking Kit

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

Bottle hanger attached to my new container

Insert the can into the bag. It’s a tight fit but will slide in creating a nesting sleeve for the cup, 32 oz. bottle, and pack stove ring. 

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

27 oz cup nesting inside the 45 oz can

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

A Bomb Proof Mod for the Pathfinder Bottle Cook Kit

Perfect fit!

Disclaimer: As you know, I don’t advertise on our site. I receive no compensation for any of the stuff I promote on our blog unless it passes the Doing the Stuff test. If you’re interested in ordering this kit, you can do so by clicking here: PF Complete Bottle Cooking Kit. The newer model comes with a strainer lid for the cup, an item I’m ordering soon. 

You never want to be caught without a way to stay hydrated or make fire to regulate your core temperature. That’s why I carry this bomb proof kit with me on all my adventures in the wild – day hikes, camping, dirt time, hunting, and fishing.

I can’t thank Christian C enough for his brilliant idea! Watch his video below…

<iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/rC0zJcKWpbg” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd 

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Doing the Stuff Network Update

by Todd Walker

Here’s a quick update on the our network…

Todd's Tomato Ladders in primary colors

One DTS Network member’s tomato ladder garden

We launched the DTS Network two months ago in an effort to encourage other like-minded people to learn a minimum of one new self-reliant skill in 2014.

You responded by sharing the skills you’re learning in this blog’s comment section, social media, and via email. DRG and I are amazed at the response. Not surprised, just stoked to see people from all walks of life learning new skills and honing existing ones.

We all benefit from our open source learning community! Kathy A. recently shared her permaculture adventures on our Facebook group which sparked DRG to begin pursuing this skill.

Other topics being discussed and shared include…

  • Primitive fire making
  • Cast iron cookware
  • Food storage
  • Food preservation techniques
  • Firearms/shooting
  • Home brewing
  • Trade skills
  • Natural cleaners and body care
  • Gardening/seed starting/green houses
  • Animal husbandry
  • Trapping/tanning hides
  • HAM communications
  • Bushcrafting
  • Aquaponics
  • Homesteading
  • Optimal health/functional fitness

Sound interesting?

If you’re ready to add to your skill set, we invite you to join the Doing the Stuff Network and share what you’re doing with our community. It’s all about trading theory for action! What works in the pages of books and blogs doesn’t always translate to real world success.

Looking forward to learning from you.

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Doing the Stuff | Tags: | 1 Comment

Foraging Feral Food: Trout Lily

by Todd Walker

Foraging Feral Food: The Trout Lily

Craving feral food? Now’s the time to hit the woods. The Trout Lily is blooming!

Before going wild on this gem of the woodland, you should have an introduction to this short-lived blooming beauty.

In the creek bottom near the shelter I’m building, the forest floor is covered with a yellow carpet of trout lilies. They are known to grow in huge colonies that can be hundreds of years old. The bulbed plant takes about seven years to produce a one-leafed plant. A two-leafed plant with a yellow flower on top of its red stem is a mature plant.

Its scientific name is Eryhronium americanum. You may know them by other common names: Fawn lily, Deer tongue, Adder’s tongue, or Dog’s-tooth violet. Someone along the way said the grayish green leaves with purplish brown spots resembled a brook trout.

The Dog’s-tooth handle was a mystery to me though. Nothing about the plant above ground shouted ‘dog’ or ‘tooth’. Upon digging a lily from the ground, the bulb (corm) resembles a dog’s canine tooth. The corm is edible and tastes sweet in early spring. By May the bulb has turned starchy.

The entire plant is edible and has medicinal uses. Be aware that the plant is considered an emetic – too much will cause vomiting. And they take seven years to mature, so only harvest sparingly from large colonies. A mature plant produces two mottled leaves and one flower. At this rate of growth, you can why it takes hundreds of years to grow a huge colony.

Medicinal Uses

  • Native American women ate raw leaves to prevent conception
  • Root tea to reduce fever
  • Poultice from the crom is used to draw splinters and reduce swelling
  • Leave poultice is used on hard to heal ulcers and skin conditions
  • Fresh or dried leaves soften skin – always test for allergic reaction on a small area of your skin
  • From the early to mid Nineteenth century the plant was used to treat gout

 Edible Uses

  • The flower, leaves, and bulb are edible
  • Mass quantities will cause you to throw up – take it easy on them, unless you need to vomit
  • Crom/bulb can be roasted – raw they have a cucumber taste
  • Flowers are slightly sweet due to their nectar
  • Leaf tea
  • Ground croms can be used as a thickening agent for cooking

Other Uses

  • Native Americans chewed the bulb and spit the juice water to attract fish
Foraging Feral Food: The Trout Lily

The view across the creek at my shelter

Identification

Flower: The yellow Trout lily produces a single, nodding flower with six pedals. The flower closes at night and opens in the day light. The flower has both male and female sex organs.

Leaves: This perennial produces one to two lance-shaped leaves. A one leaf plant has not yet matured. Give it a year or seven. The stem of the plant is brownish-red.

Crom/bulb: The mature bulb resembles a dog’s canine tooth and is covered with a brown paper-like skin. Peel the skin before eating raw.

Habitat: In North America, Trout lilies grow in moist, rich soils in the eastern deciduous woodlands from Georgia to Canada.

Get out and enjoy this lily while you can. The blooms only last through spring.

Hope this was useful as you get some dirt time in this year.

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Medical, Natural Health, Wildcrafting | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

by Todd Walker

Imagine the first human who made fire from scratch.

The Art of Rubbing  Sticks Together

We have no way of knowing the gender of this hero, but I’m sure her clan celebrated her curious discovery well into the night! We’ll call her Pyrojen.

Scouting for berries by the stream that day, she threw a fist-sized rock at a slithering, scaly animal. Snake was a delicacy during berry season. Her projectile missed its mark. Hunger has a way of improving our hunter-gatherer craft. She threw more stones at random targets in the creek bed.

Still missing her target, Pyrojen’s frustration turned to anger, then to rage. She pitched a flailing fit while breaking rock on rock. And it happened. Sparks flew from two random rocks which lit her curiosity.

Word spread to nearby tribes huddled and shivering in dark, damp primitive shelters. Like a moth drawn to a flame, they came. Wondering as they wandered towards the glow if they too might learn to capture this primordial, glowing ember. And the rest is history.

This is where the term pyromaniac originated. ;)

Our fascination with fire is nothing new. For millenniums, men and women have stared at flames. Fire was man’s first TV. Besides being mesmerizing, fire from scratch opened a whole new world and we’ve been creatively using it’s power to make other useful stuff like glass, pottery, and weaponry.

We had three generations in our house last week. I offered to show our oldest grandson (almost 7) how to start a friction fire. He was not interested… yet. His bow and arrow held his attention. But our son jumped at the chance.

Here’s how he started his first friction fire using the bow drill method. If you’ve ever wanted to created fire by friction, the bow drill is the most efficient way. There are subtle nuances involved which can only be mastered by Doing the Stuff!

Ready to make ancestral fire?

Gather the Stuff

Though you can make a bow drill set from natural material in the bush, this is my practice set I use at home. It’s better to practice in a controlled environment to perfect your skills than waiting until you absolutely need them.

I’m planning a tutorial on making a bow drill in the woods. Stay tuned!

Here’s the stuff what you’ll need for the bow drill method…

  • Fire hearth (board)
  • Bow and bow-string
  • Spindle (drill)
  • Handhold socket
Friction fire kit

Friction fire kit

Fire Hearth

friction fire

Select wood that is free of moisture and resins. I had a scrap piece of cedar 1×4 board left over in my shop. I ripped it down to 2 1/2 inches wide by about a foot long. The board measures about 3/4 of an inch thick. Anywhere between 3/4″ to 1/2″ is a good thickness for your hearth.

Spindle

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

About 8 inches long

We used a thumb-sized dowel rod made of poplar. The length of your spindle should be about 8 inches. Without a measuring device, make the spindle about the length from the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky finger.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

The business end

There are two ends of the spindle. On the business end (where you’ll create the primordial ember), chamfer a slight bevel on the entire edge to fit into the pivot you’ll create in the fire board with your knife. This pivot will be ‘burned in’ by friction to create a socket for your spindle.

Whittle the opposite end to a point. The pointed end decreases the friction on the handhold socket.

Handhold Socket

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Since my practice set gets lots of use, I made a metal socket and secured it with epoxy.

I created my handhold from a piece of cedar leg I shaved down when I made DRG’s cedar bench. I split a smooth, rounded 4 inch piece and made a pivot hole that would accept a “knock out” from a metal receptacle box.

You could use a coin of some kind for the socket. Or you could burn a socket in the handhold with your spindle. A round stone with a dimple would also work.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Ball pen hammer, 9/16 ” socket, and a vise made the metal divot

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Cordage

We used the quintessential survival cord – 550 paracord – for our bow-string. You could use tarred bank line, natural cordage, braided dental floss, animal sinew, or any strong line.

Bow

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Bow and bow-string

The length of your bow should measure from the tip of you outstretched finger tips to your arm pit. Use a limb with a slight bend. My bow (oak) has a large bend but it’s what I had available. I’ve seen bows work that were perfectly straight.

If you have a boring tool (awl on your Swiss Army Knife) or a drill and bit, drill a hole about an inch from both ends of the bow. Away from civilization, just cut a 1/4″ notch on the back of the bow where you would have drilled holes. Wrap the cord around the notch to hold the bow-string in place.

Burning In Your Socket

Place your spindle on the fire board so that the edge of the spindle is about 1/4 inch from the edge. Tilt the spindle and make a mark where the center of the spindle would touch the board. Now make a pivot hole with your knife that will accept the drill. Spin the board with the knife point in the pivot until you’ve created a shallow hole the diameter of your spindle.

Twist the spindle into the bow string and slowly burn a hole in the board. This creates a socket  in the fire board that will mate with the drill.

Notch the Socket

Once you’ve burned in a socket hole, cut a notch on the edge of the board that runs at a 45° angle from the center of the hole. The notch should cut into the burned hole about 1/8th of an inch. The notch is used for air flow and collecting charred cellulose dust from process of friction.

Rubbing Sticks Together

I’m right-handed and built my bow drill to allow my students to see the process while facing me. That is why the notched holes are facing away from the fire-maker. If you’re left-handed, just flip this set around and the holes face you as you place your right foot on the board.

Before starting your bow drill, place a dry leaf, piece of paper, or bark under the edge the fire board to collect the ember. This will be used to transfer the primal ember to your tinder bundle. (It’s a good practice to lay a dry barrier under the complete set to prevent moisture from entering your fire hearth).

With your bow sting tight, twist the spindle into the cord with the business end down. Place the drill in the socket on your fire board, place handhold on top of spindle, and brace your off-hand against your shin for stability and pressure. This technique also helps you keep your drill vertical.

Now begin to spin the drill with long, smooth strokes while applying pressure on the handhold. The correct amount of pressure takes practice. Use the entire length of the bow string to rotate the spindle.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Our son creating smoke

Not too much pressure in the beginning. You’ll begin to see charred dust fill the notch in your fire board. Once the notch is almost full, you’ll pick up your pace with the bow. You’ll need to create a temperature around 800°F to create an ember from the char dust.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

A successful ember

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Messaging (blowing) the ember inside the bird’s nest (tinder bundle)

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

His first primitive fire!!

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Making char material to ensure future fires when using flint and steel or a ferro rod

This method of making fire is a spiritual experience that connects you to our ancient ancestors. It’s also a great way to connect with your family now!

Keep Doing the Stuff with fire!

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

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Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Lost Skills, Primal Skills, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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